Historical US Elections
The United States has held 57 presidential elections over its history, from the unanimous election of George Washington in 1789 to that of Barack Obama in 2012. These elections were significant political events that not only shaped the nation, but often d determined the course of international events. The US elections have been influenced by both domestic and global events.
On the domestic front, the Civil War had a great impact on the elections in the 1860s witnessing the meteoric rise of Abraham Lincoln. International events such as the French Revolution, the World Wars, and in more recent times, the wars in the Middle East, have also often determined the outcome of the US presidential elections.
The first US Presidential Election was held in 1789, when George Washington was elected unanimously as the first President of the United States.
Presidential elections have seen the victory of some influential candidates who have had a lasting impact on national and world politics through their actions. Some of these names include Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy.
Since the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment, which transformed the US presidential election process and allowed for the House of Representatives to select the winner in case of a tie, he 1824 presidential election was the only election to be decided by the House of Representatives. The winner of that election, Andrew Jackson, won the popular vote, but is the only US president to have lost the electoral vote.
The 1940 election of President Franklin D. Roosevelt marked the first (and only) time in US history that a president was elected to a third term, followed by the 1944 election, when he was elected to his fourth term.
The 2008 presidential election saw the election of the nation’s first African American president, Barack Obama. Obama was re-elected the president of the country in the 2012 presidential elections.
Post-Civil War amendments to the US Constitution extended voting rights to many additional groups of Americans. The Fifteenth Amendment gave non-white men the right to vote in 1870, though it was not until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that this was thoroughly enforced.
Women secured the right to vote for the first time in 1920, with the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. That election was also the first time the results were communicated over the radio. However, the first woman to become a presidential candidate came much before that, when Victoria Woodhull campaigned as nominee for the Equal Rights Party.
The age requirement for voters in the US presidential elections was lowered from 21 to 18 with the Twenty-sixth Amendment to the Constitution in 1971.
- The 1800 US presidential election saw an electoral tie between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. It was resolved by the US House of Representatives which elected Thomas Jefferson as President and Aaron Burr as Vice-President.
- The ninth President William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia a month after his inauguration. He had the shortest presidency, a total of 31 days, and was the first president to die in office.
- President John F. Kennedy at 43 years 236 days was the youngest elected president.
- President Ronald Reagan at 69 years 349 days was the oldest elected president
- President Theodore Roosevelt at 42 years 322 days was the youngest president. He succeeded to the office upon the assassination of President William McKinley.
- Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms as president: first as the 22nd President from 1885 to 1889 and then as the 24th President from 1893 to 1897.
- Till now, two US presidents have been impeached. The seventeenth President Andrew Johnson was the first President to be impeached by the House of Representatives. However, he was subsequently acquitted in the Senate by a single vote. The 42nd President Bill Clinton was the second President to be impeached by the House of Representatives.
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the only president to be elected to an unprecedented four terms of office.
- Four US presidents have won the electoral majority for the presidency but did not win the largest popular vote. President John Quincy Adams won the presidency in 1824 but Andrew Jackson won the largest popular vote. President Rutherford Birchard Hayes won the presidency in 1876; however, Samuel J. Tilden won the largest popular vote. President Benjamin Harrison won the presidency in 1888; however, Grover Cleveland won the largest popular vote. President George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 but Al Gore won the largest popular vote.
- 2012 US Presidential Election was the first time when neither of the two presidential candidates – Barack Obama and Mitt Romney – had a history of military service.
- In the 2008 US presidential election, Barack Obama won over 43 per cent of the votes cast. This was the highest share gained by any presidential candidate in US history.
- The 1960 US presidential election was the first in which both candidates – John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon – were 20th-century born.
- The 1960 presidential election witnessed the first televised presidential debates in American history between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.